The Arizona Association of Realtors is moving forward with a plan to build a statewide multiple listing service, approving the acquisition of the state’s largest MLS today as the first step in the process.

With the 70-27 vote to acquire Tempe-based Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service Inc. (ARMLS) for $4.75 million, Arizona Realtors also brought ARMLS CEO Bob Bemis on board to lead the effort to build a statewide MLS.

Bemis called the deal, expected to close by the end of next month, a "big win for every Realtor in Arizona and the start of something very much needed, here and elsewhere."

Arizona currently has 21 Realtor associations and 14 separate MLSs. The state association has been studying the feasibility of a statewide MLS for more than a year, and the board was presented with a preliminary business plan in March.

Proponents said a larger MLS system will provide better economies of scale, and be in a better position to compete with third-party publishers like Zillow and Trulia. Arizona MLS will be self-sustaining even it fails to attract other MLSs, they said, and neither ARMLS or state association members will see a rise in their subscriber fees or dues as a result of the acquisition.

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